N.J. bill prohibiting "ex-gay therapy" held by sponsors, will be debated in January

State House Bureau
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December 18, 2012

Proponents of “conversion therapy,” a practice that seeks to turn gay people straight, gathered in the State House Monday afternoon to testify against a bill that would ban such therapy for minors. But they left the building disappointed after the legislation was unexpectedly held by its sponsors. Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-Union, one of the sponsors, said the upcoming holidays prevented everyone he wants to testify from making it to Monday’s Senate Health Committee hearing. “Because of the holidays, we just couldn’t get everybody together. But we will bring it back up in January,” Lesniak said in an interview. He said the people he wants to testify will show “there is absolutely no scientific basis for this type of therapy, and they have examples of its harmful effect.” A similar bill is sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblyman Tim Eustace, D-Maywood. Lesniak said he plans to amend his bill to match Eustace’s. The legislation would prohibit licensed professionals, such as psychiatrists or social workers, from engaging in “sexual orientation change efforts” with a person under 18 years old. Lesniak said the bill does not apply to religious officials.